The Boy Scouts can’t catch a break. First they are attacked relentlessly over their policy on gays, and now, after throwing up the white flag on that issue, they find themselves in the cross hairs of a different advocacy group: the obese. They have decided to move their annual Jamboree to a new location in West Virginia this year. This will put them in a harsh wooded terrain, where the Scouts will face an event that is more physically demanding than years past. In consideration of this, a new requirement has been imposed. All participants must be less than severely obese. If they can’t register below a 40 on the BMI scale, they won’t be able to attend. This is, clearly, a matter of safety. Although I imagine it’s also got a lot to do with protecting the Boy Scouts organization against certain liabilities. In a sane universe, that would be the end of the story.
But we ain’t in that sort of universe.
Obese-acceptance groups immediately pounced. The woman who represents the Council of Size and Weight Discrimination, which is, sadly, a thing that apparently exists, complained that this policy will make very fat kids feel bad about themselves. She insisted that just because you’re obese doesn’t mean you aren’t “extremely fit.” Of course, that’s a bit like saying just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you wouldn’t make a “really excellent optometrist.” But that sort of inanity must go unchecked in the name of modern enlightenment. Other liberal busy bodies have protested the Jamboree — despite having no idea what a Jamboree is or what it entails — saying that this is akin to “fat shaming.” They contend that all people, even the severely overweight, ought to be proud of their bodies.
Ok. Allow me to take this opportunity to say two things. One, cut the crap. Stop pretending you’re so helplessly progressive and tolerant that you can’t even fathom why extremely overweight and out of shape people might be excluded from extraordinarily strenuous and demanding physical activities. Two, cut the crap again. Nobody should be “proud” of obesity. It’s not something to “accept” or “include.” It’s not an ethnicity or a gender. It’s not a disability. It’s objectively negative, and it is usually self imposed.
Before you implode in a fit of ungodly rage at my suggestion, please understand what it is that I’m actually suggesting. I’m not saying fat people should hate themselves. Nobody should hate themselves. I’m not advocating bullying or mockery. But I’m also not going to sit here and tell you it’s A-OK to eat your way into heart disease and diabetes just so that I can avoid hurting your feelings. Look, morbid obesity is a flaw. Yes, I said it. A flaw. A weakness. A result of personal failures. Yes. That’s true. Hate me for saying it, but there it is.
You know what else? I’ve got flaws. A lot of them. Probably more than you. I’ve got weaknesses and personal shortcomings galore. I’m flawed mentally, spiritually, emotionally, even hygienically (according to my wife, when I try to wear my favorite shirt four days out of the week). I am not superior to you. I have my sins, but what separates mine from the lethargy and overindulgence which leads to obesity, is that my sins don’t have a lobbying group. Nobody is lifting my imperfections up on a pedestal and telling me to be proud of them. My iniquities are not advocated nor are they championed by mainstream society. You can tell me I shouldn’t be proud of my own self destructive flaws, and I shouldn’t passively accept the strain they put on my life, and I’ll agree, and everyone will agree, and that will likely be the end of the conversation.
Same can be said for other folks who posses non-trendy weaknesses. Nobody tells a cigarette smoker to be proud of his yellow teeth and bronchitis, nobody puts “Love your alcoholism” on a banner. There is no Council of Pathological Liar Discrimination. It only becomes truly necessary to drag a certain sin out onto the mat and call it what it is once a nefarious force arrises in the culture and attempts to dress it up as something benign, and then acceptable, and then laudable.
So how should the obese guys who are excluded from the Boy Scouts Jamboree feel? Well, maybe their feelings are hurt, and that’s unfortunate, but hopefully they’ll take it as a challenge. Not a challenge to buy into the absurd defeatist lies being peddled by yet another Let’s Celebrate Self Destruction group. Rather a challenge to take charge of their lives and overcome their temptations. The word “proud” has a meaning. It means “feeling satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable to oneself.” Only an absolute fool would call obesity “honorable.” Moreover, if you simply throw up your middle finger to the world and say “screw you, I’m proud of my morbidly obese body,” then what will you say about your truly creditable and distinguished accomplishments? What happens when you get that promotion at work or when you spend your Christmas volunteering at a soup kitchen? These are things to be genuinely proud of, but now you’ve reduced these achievements to something equatable to eating junk food and accumulating lard on your body.
It is a cheap and worthless brand of “positivity” that merely paints all unacceptable personal traits as acceptable. Let’s stop trying to pretend bad things are good. Instead, we ought to help each other overcome the bad and achieve the good. But we can’t do that until we’re willing to look at the situation honestly.
Finally, lay off the Boy Scouts, people.